OK, the GDC, the Game Developer's conference is over, and it's time for my geek-career roundup.
Now a bit of a disclaimer – I went for half a day mostly to hit the trade floor. I'm very busy right now and the management track panels weren't anything I hadn't already done or taken. The panels there looked quite good, it's just I've been doing the IT PM thing for . . . about six or more years. In fact one of my teachers was there anyway.
So I wandered around, got my impressions, and analyzed what was going on in gaming and peripheral tech. You know me – business via naturalistic observation. Here's what impressed me.
- It was lower-key than last year. I'm not sure why this is, but I'm pretty sure it's the economy.
- I saw a lot of new companies, some 1-3 years old, who provided services to gaming companies. Most of these impressed me, some quite a bit, and many had very young staff. I think it's clear people get that gaming is an industry with a lot of opportunity for "service" – consulting, mocap, testing, etc. This shows many opportunities – and the maturing of the gaming industry.
- Sony 3D and Move. The Move was OK, looked decent, and interfaced OK with a camera. The PS3 3D actually looked really good. Good for Sony.
- Saw lots of indie games, but nothing really sent me this year. I'm wondering if the indie/retro scene is burning itself out.
- Aggressive recruiting by other countries looking for companies and/or individuals willing to relocate temporarily or permanently to work there in the gaming industry. The Canadians of course had this down to a science, but Scotland's reps were really good and savvy. Northern European countries also had a strong presence. This seemed more aggressive than last year, and I think fits the theory that some countries realize America's economy leaves it vulnerable to a brain drain.
- Recruiting was surprisingly active for companies – I think that's a good sign job-wise.
- I ran into the person who manages Charisma Plus 2 Models – a company that provides models for game events. By models they don't just mean pretty faces – they mean people who know gaming, performances, and cover the different looks and knowledge a presentation may need.
My overall impression was positive, with some up-and comers and savvy people looking to adapt and take advantages of the worldwide economic changes and changes in the game industry. I especially believe in the next few years (especially with attempts to save money by outsourcing) that "game industry service companies" have a bright future – even more than I believed last year.
Though they may be in Scotland, Canada, or Sweden if those recruiters have any say.
– Steven Savage